Publicis Groupe has taken another media hit below the waterline in the US, this time losing the $900m Walmart account. Mediavest is the losing individual agency and the surprise move by Walmart (which wasn’t supposed to be one of the mega accounts reviewing in ‘Mediapalooza’) comes on top of group losses of $2.6bn Procter & Gamble and $500m Coca-Cola.
Walmart hasn’t said yet what it’s going to do, only that Mediavest will help with the ‘transition’ of the business. It already handles much digital media in house. As so often with these decisions, the switch follows the appointment a new CMO, Tony Rogers who took over from Stephen Quinn at the start of the year. Rogers (left) was CMO of Walmart China. Quinn has retired.
Not so long ago Publicis Groupe could boast that it was the biggest media buyer in North America. This ‘success’ was presumably the reason Starcom Mediavest CEO Laura Desmond was promoted to ‘chief revenue officer’ in Publicis’ recent re-organisation. ZenithOptimedia’s Steve King was placed in charge of new group hub Publicis Media.
The easiest thing would have been for Walmart to have shifted the account straight to another media agency. Dentsu-owned Carat handles the Asda account in the UK. The fact that it hasn’t may indicate a degree of suspicion about all the big holding company media agencies, currently being investigated by the US Association of National Advertisers (ANA) over undisclosed rebates.
Obviously Publicis didn’t take the client for dinners at NoBu and for rides in an Aston Martin. That worked for Howard and won all the WalMart biz for Draft… Well, for SIX weeks, ’til the shit hit the fan!
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